It is always refreshing to learn of a new B&B which is wheelchair accessible. It is even more enjoyable when that B&B is located in our favourite town of Robertson, in the heart of the Western Cape on the famous Route 62.
We first discovered Robertson in the mid-1990s when the individual wine farms were beginning to break away from the co-operative business model. It was the beginning of a whole new adventure for the valley as estates found themselves competing against their neighbours for the attention of the buying public and developing their market share and businesses became aware of the importance of encouraging tourism.
In those early days there was little in the way of tourist infrastructure, just a good product at a very competitive price and a willingness to work hard. Over the years the wine farms became more experienced at, and innovative in, attracting wine buyers. Guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments began sprouting up in the town, and restaurants opened in order to cater for the growing number of visitors. Today the valley boasts of more than 50 wine estates, with many more located in the adjoining regions of McGregor, Ashton and Bonnievale. They have become famous for their annual Wacky Wine Weekend held in May, the very scenic Wine on the River Festival held in October, and the increasingly popular Robertson’s Slow winter festival sandwiched between the two.
Under the guidance of the Robertson Wine Valley tourism bureau a tremendous amount of good work has been put into making as many of the wine farms in the Robertson valley accessible as possible, and in the process a number of accommodation establishments have modified their facilities to more easily accept disabled tourists.
GUBAS DE HOEK is located in the heart of the town yet provides a level of peace and tranquillity which allows one to fully relax and shake off the stresses of work and the city. As we have come to experience in our country towns hosts Gunther and Balbina Huerttlen made us feel most welcome on arrival, helped along with a much-needed cup of tea and delicious biscuits!
Balbina had of course already been in communication with me when I made my first enquiry. At that point she e-mailed me an extensive and detailed document outlining the accessible facilities that GUBAS DE HOEK was able to provide, which includes not one, but two wheelchair accessible en-suite rooms. When someone goes to this level of care you sit up and take note!
Balbina explained all the facilities, which ranged from the fully paved parking through to a well thought out and equipped bedroom with accessible hanging and work spaces, and bathroom with a roll-in shower, accessible basin and mirror, and ample transfer space adjacent to the toilet. There are grab rails in all the right places, lowered door handles and light switches within easy reach.
A great deal of thought appears to have gone into the construction of the work areas, cupboards, hand basins, shower, etc. All too often we have encountered accommodation where the rooms have been modified in order to try and provide accessibility. Somehow they never seem “right” and important features are often omitted. In the case of GUBAS DE HOEK accessibility appears to have come first, and the rooms are designed from that point forward. Everything works well together and there is a logic and flow to the rooms which make them easy to live in. It really is the way things should always be.
Paved paths lead through the garden and connect to the main house which offers a lounge and dining area, all of which is accessible. We were provided with a remote control for the front gate, which allowed us to come and go as we pleased. A measure of the standard of accessibility is usually the ease with which one relaxes and settles into holiday mode. Whenever we have looked back, whether it be a long weekend getaway or a multi-week holiday, and commented about how easy it was to travel, that invariably was as a result of the accommodation being genuinely wheelchair friendly. When one’s holiday “home” is welcoming and comfortable it sets the right tone for all else that follows.
We can strongly recommend GUBAS DE HOEK in Robertson as an excellent base from which to explore the Valley and everything it has to offer a disabled tourist.